Slinky® is a quintessential childhood toy and an icon of classic fun. With a theme song that sticks with you for life, Slinky has captivated kids with its ability to walk down stairs (alone or in pairs), making that classic Slinkity sound! For generations, children, parents, and grandparents have enjoyed the childhood memories invoked by the original metal spring toy that has always been Made in the USA. Slinky continues to celebrate a tradition of timeless entertainment with Slinky’s of different sizes, colors and materials; that light up, make noise; and even one who goes on adventures with his Toy Story Pals!
In 1943, Richard James, a naval mechanical engineer stationed at the William Cramp and Sonsshipyards in Philadelphia, was developing springs that could support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard ships in rough seas. James accidentally knocked one of the springs from a shelf, and watched as the spring “stepped” in a series of banana splits, to a stack of books, to a tabletop, to the floor, where it re-coiled itself and stood upright.
James’ wife Betty later recalled, “He came home and said, ‘I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension, I could make it walk.’” James experimented with different types of steel wire over the next year, and finally found a spring that would walk.
Betty was dubious at first, but changed her mind after the toy was fine-tuned and neighborhood children expressed an excited interest in it. She dubbed the toy Slinky (meaning “sleek and graceful”), after finding the word in a dictionary, and deciding that the word aptly described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing.
In 1945, the couple formed James Industries (originally James Spring & Wire Company), had 400 Slinky units made by a local machine shop, hand wrapped each in yellow paper, and priced them at $1 apiece. Each was 2″ tall, and included 98 coils of high-grade blue-black Swedish steel. The sold out at Philadelphia Gimbels Department Store in 90 minutes!
Fun Facts About Slinky
National Slinky Day is August 30th! Mark your calendars. #SlinkyDay
In 1999, the United States Postal Service issued a Slinky postage stamp.
The Slinky was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2000 in their Celebrate the Century stamp series. A bill to nominate the slinky as the state toy of Pennsylvania was introduced by Richard Geist in 2001 but not enacted. The same year, Betty James was inducted into the Toy Industry Association’s Hall of Fame.
In 2003, Slinky was named to the Toy Industry Association’s “Century of Toys List“, a roll call of the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the twentieth century
You can say Slinky is Out of this World! On April 14, 1985 Astronauts Jeffrey A. Hoffman and Rhea Seddon, mission specialists, demonstrate the effect of weightlessness on a slinky toy in the middeck of the Space Shuttle Discovery
In the Vietnam War, American soldiers used the Slinky as an antenna.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary design student, Olivia Wilson, created a dress made entirely out of Slinkys. It was for her senior project at the New York School of Arts. It’s created from 135 Slinkys and 8 different Slinky styles.
In the Movies
Slinky Dog and Slinky Train were added to the company’s product line. Slinky Dog, a small plastic dog whose front and rear ends were joined by a metal Slinky, debuted in 1952.In 1995, the Slinky Dog was redesigned for all of Pixar’s Toy Story. Slinky Dog has been a character favorite in a 3 Toy Story Movies. Toy Story 4 hits theaters in 2019!
Lots of Slinky Toys
Throughout the years there have been lots of different Slinky products, just take a look! Which do you remember?